American Rolls Out Free Elite Companion Upgrades

American Rolls Out Free Elite Companion Upgrades

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Earlier this year, American Airlines announced major changes to how complimentary upgrades work for AAdvantage elite members. With this change, American eliminated 500-mile upgrade “stickers,” and instead started offering all elite members complimentary upgrades in eligible regions. The next part of this change is now being implemented.

Complimentary American elite companion upgrades start July 14

As of Thursday, July 14, 2022, American AAdvantage elite members will also receive complimentary upgrades for one travel companion. Up until now you’ve needed to use 500-mile upgrades for companions, but that will no longer be the case.

Companion upgrades will receive the same priority as upgrades for the elite member, meaning that a companion upgrade could clear at your upgrade window. The challenge is that if only a single upgrade seat is made available, you may be skipped over if trying to upgrade as a party of two.

Objectively I’d say American eliminating 500-mile upgrades and introducing free upgrades for all elite members and companions is a positive development. It simplifies the program, and potentially makes it more rewarding.

However, not all people will feel that way, since ultimately there are a lot of people competing for a limited number of upgrades. After all, you could lose your upgrade to the companion of someone who has slightly higher upgrade priority than you (either because they have a higher elite tier, or because they have more Loyalty Points within your elite tier).

American is rolling out companion elite upgrades

This is the end of 500-mile upgrades

With American introducing companion upgrades, there will no longer be uses for 500-mile upgrades. As a result, in the near future American will be converting all existing 500-mile upgrades into 250 Loyalty Points each, which will count toward 2022 status qualification.

Note that if you purchased your 500-mile upgrades, American has been making some generous offers for converting these 500-mile upgrades into something other than Loyalty Points. For example, I had my purchased 500-mile upgrades converted into 5,000 AAdvantage miles each, which I’d say is an excellent value. My 33 500-mile upgrades earned me 165,000 AAdvantage miles.

American has been converting 500-mile upgrades into miles

Bottom line

Earlier this year American started offering all elite members complimentary upgrades, and now as of July 14, American will roll out complimentary companion upgrades for elite members. This will mark the end of 500-mile upgrades, so expect those to disappear from your account soon, and be converted into Loyalty Points.

What do you make of American introducing companion upgrades?

Conversations (17)
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  1. paclim Guest

    Not much advantage so far for me as a plat pro AA elite member. Since the new system began, I've not received any upgrades. Before, quite often actually. As with everything else that AA is doing with the changes to its frequent flyer program, it has less to do with frequency and loyalty and only to do with how much you pay for a ticket.

  2. AD Guest

    @Russ, While I was living in CA I let EXP status lapse and I'm a "lowly gold" now. On the right route I get still get upgraded. I don't really like AA but I do better as a gold on AA than I did as a Plat on Delta. I'm Diamond on DL now with ridiculous eqds this year, so I'm pretty much always upgraded, even during irrops. But I still have to fly AA sometimes for business and appreciate the I do, in fact, have a chance.

  3. Art Guest

    How do get AA to provide miles instead of loyalty points when cashing in stickers?

  4. Chris Guest

    I'm just here to witness the whining!

  5. INS Vikramaditya Guest

    Paving the road for free upgrades on AA for lower tier AS elites and their companions.

    As someone who matched from AA PLT to MVPG, I'm happy.

  6. Bobo Member

    I'm another lifetime Plat who has 10 (earned, unpaid) stickers and absolutely zero use for loyalty points as I credit every flight to Alaska. Anyone ask for an alternative compensation and heard back from them?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Bobo -- See this post:
      https://onemileatatime.com/insights/american-500-mile-upgrades/

      These alternatives are generally only offered when you purchased the 500-mile upgrades, and not if you earned them through flying.

  7. mdande7 Gold

    I realize this is just a one person issue but I had paid for a few of these a while back when I was flying AA regularly SEA-CLT but didn't get upgraded. Since I'm SEA based I'm using Alaska as my sole One World carrier now so these have become useless. I email AA asking if they would refund or convert at least the ones I paid for as loyalty points are useless for me. We shall see.

  8. uldguy Diamond

    I can't say I'm please about this one. As a "low level" Executive Platinum member (meaning I usually just barely qualify each year), I now run the strong risk of losing out on an upgrade due to a companion upgrade by a higher level Ex Plat member, especially to Florida, Arizona, and other more-leisure markets.

    This so-called enhancement, and the SkyRubles dynamic pricing on many award tickets is making me seriously consider switching programs. I...

    I can't say I'm please about this one. As a "low level" Executive Platinum member (meaning I usually just barely qualify each year), I now run the strong risk of losing out on an upgrade due to a companion upgrade by a higher level Ex Plat member, especially to Florida, Arizona, and other more-leisure markets.

    This so-called enhancement, and the SkyRubles dynamic pricing on many award tickets is making me seriously consider switching programs. I live in IND and will likely continue to fly AA for the convenience if nothing else, but then just credit everything to Alaska. For the type of award travel I normally take, AK is the better and cheaper option for me.

    The bean counters at AA are alive and well. If AA and US are still trying to emulate DL, then I wish them good luck. It's a very fast race to the bottom.

  9. Steve Guest

    I have elite status with Alaska that gets me on the upgrade list for American flights. Any idea if this gets my flight companion on the upgrade list with me now when fly American?

    1. BConn Guest

      Steve, this has always been the case after AA/AS partnership started. MVP 75K and MVP 100K are eligible for companion upgrades. I just had that happen a few days ago where me and my companion were both upgraded.

  10. AaronP Guest

    I was so happy to have 59 stickers in my account to use after I lose my Platinum Pro status on 4.01.23 and go back to Platinum...

    1. mdande7 Gold

      If my math is right you'll now have 14,750 loyalty points which will get you almost half way to gold for next year.

    2. AaronP Guest

      I'm 10,000 EQMs away from Lifetiime Platinum...

  11. Russ Member

    Saying the golds and even platinums will get ever get upgraded seems like a phantom benefit. It seems silly to tell golds and platinums that they even have a chance at companion upgrades.

    1. DCAWABN Guest

      I'm gold through a very specific work trip I have to make once every few weeks like clockwork, otherwise I'm not an AA guy anymore. But I'm averaging about 30-40% on upgrades right now but it's a mid-week morning route from the Midwest to DC. So there's hope, but it ain't much.

    2. SwimBikeFly Guest

      Such a lazy comment. Upgrades have always been and will always be route and time specific. Will the dynamics shift now, sure. But you are also refusing to acknowledge the EPs that we’re utilizing 500mi upgrades for companions in the past.

      As with everything else in our society today, negative knee jerk reactions. Sad.

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BConn Guest

Steve, this has always been the case after AA/AS partnership started. MVP 75K and MVP 100K are eligible for companion upgrades. I just had that happen a few days ago where me and my companion were both upgraded.

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Steve Guest

I have elite status with Alaska that gets me on the upgrade list for American flights. Any idea if this gets my flight companion on the upgrade list with me now when fly American?

1
AaronP Guest

I'm 10,000 EQMs away from Lifetiime Platinum...

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